A group of bears was released earlier this year. Photo: Rudaw video
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Plans are underway to free another three bears into the wild after the successful release of a groups of animals earlier this year.
Most of the bears released into the wild in April by an animal protection agency are wandering along the border between the Kurdistan Region and Iran, sometimes crossing the border, the mayor of Choman town said.
In mid-April 2017, the Kurdish-American cooperation agency freed four bears near the village of Weze in the town of Choman. The bears were previously hunted in Kurdistan’s mountainous areas.
One of the bears was very accustomed to humans and quickly returned to residential areas. It had been first fed milk by humans when it was just two months old.
Bilind Birifkani, head of the Kurdish-American organization, told Rudaw that one of their duties is to free wild animals that were captured by humans and made to perform in shows.
“Last month, we freed four bears in Halgurd National Park’s snowy areas where wild animals live. Three of them could adapt to the environment they had already come from early on. However, one of them couldn’t get away from residential areas as it was kept by humans as a cub,” Brifkani said.
“We brought back this bear and put it with three other bears in Duhok, which are still young enough to be released. We will free them into the nature,” he added.
The three who are living in the wild are being closely monitored by the police and village chieftains to ensure they are not hurt, Choman mayor Ahmed Qadir told Rudaw.
“Because the bears were freed on the border between south and east Kurdistan, they are always wandering on the border. Sometimes they cross over to the village of Konalajan near Piranshar in east Kurdistan. And they are sometimes seen in the village of Weze near the town of Choman,” Qadir said.
In summer months, nomads graze their cattle in this area. They guard their herds using using dogs and weapons.
“We have notified all of the nomads that they will be subjected to legal proceedings if they shoot these bears,” Qadir said. “In Iran, killing these wild animals is prohibited. If these animals incur damage on livestock owners, the Iranian government will compensate them. But in the Kurdistan Region, killing these animals is prohibited, and if they incur damage on someone, he will not be compensated.”